Gibson to mail residents their version of property dispute

Gibson Township supervisors called a special meeting for Monday morning,Oct.19, at 8 a.m. for the sole purpose of voting to mail residents the township’s narrative regarding the ongoing dispute with a local homeowner over the access to Ervin Kaminski Park.

The meeting had originally been scheduled for Friday morning, but an error in the legal advertisement forced the supervisors to reschedule for Monday morning in order to comply with Sunshine Law requirements.

The lane into the park, located on Route 92, is bordered by Bell Creek and trees on a neighboring property. Two vehicles can not pass into the lane.

According to the township’s five-page narrative provided to the Independent, the township has been investigating opportunities to open another access point to the park. In the document, the township claims that Nate Tompkins, the township engineer, a resident and park supporter, expressed interest in purchasing the home and planned to turn about six acres of the parcel over to the township to construct a driveway and expand the walking trail. The former owner had already turned the property over to her lender in lieu of foreclosure.

The narrative also details attempts made by the township to the property manager regarding acquiring the land through last year; as well as Tompkins offer to purchase the property in July of this year, which was accepted by the lender.

According to the township’s version of events, Tompkins withdrew his purchase offer after Bridget Watson expressed interest in purchasing the Cat Street property, and that agreed to honor his agreement with the township which would have subdivided the land – leaving the parcel with the home at about two acres; and a six acre parcel the township intended to use as an access and trails.

Bridget Watson attended Monday morning’s meeting and asked if her narrative would also be provided to township residents.

Supervisor Rick Marcho said, “We want the truth to get out.”

A member of the audience replied that Watson’s narrative should also be included for the township to be completely transparent with its residents.

Another audience member questioned, “Why not both? Give both facts, full disclosure.”

Township solicitor Michael Briechle said, “I think residents have heard a singular side of the story.”

He also said the township has not proceeded with any eminent domain action.

Briechle recommended residents read the township’s narrative and return to the November 2 meeting and discuss the matter in a calm matter.

Bridget Watson, however, said the township has not communicated with her.

Another audience member said she had spoken with the township supervisors to gain more understanding of the situation, and urged the community to work together.

An information sheet was provided to audience members by “The Citizens of Gibson Township” regarding the possibility of rebuilding the existing driveway into the park through a right of way.

The group met with Mike Barhite, of Barhite Excavating, regarding that option.

According to the sheet handed out, permits from DEP would be needed to do any type of work on the creek side.

The citizens group said they also met with the owners adjacent to the current access road who said they would be agreeable for the entrance to be widened to allow for two vehicles to pass.

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